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Jolanta Szpyra-Kozłowska


The paper is a continuation of the author’s earlier studies in which she argues that it is the mispronunciation of whole words due to their incorrect phonological storage in the learners’ phonetic memory that is more detrimental to successful communication via English than an inaccurate production of individual segments and suprasegmentals. Consequently, phonetically difficult words deserve to be thoroughly investigated and pedagogically prioritized.

The present study is a report on an experiment in which 20 English Department students, all advanced learners of English, were recorded having been asked to read a list of diagnostic sentences containing 80 words known to be problematic for Poles in terms of their pronunciation. This has been done in order to isolate and examine the major error types, to establish a hierarchy of difficulty among 8 sources of pronunciation errors, to compare the obtained results with the most common error types made by intermediate learners and to juxtapose the participants’ subjective evaluation of the phonetic difficulty of words with their actual phonetic performance. The final goal is to draw pedagogical implications for the phonetic training of advanced students of English.

Open access

Jolanta Szpyra-Kozłowska and Marek Radomski


While the perception of Polish-accented English by native-speakers has been studied extensively (e.g Gonet & Pietroń 2004, Scheuer 2003, Szpyra-Kozłowska 2005, in press), an opposite phenomenon, i.e. the perception of English-accented Polish by Poles has not, to our knowledge, been examined so far despite a growing number of Polish-speaking foreigners, including various celebrities, who appear in the Polish media and whose accents are often commented on and even parodied.

In this paper we offer a report on a pilot study in which 60 Polish teenagers, all secondary school learners (aged 15-16) listened to and assessed several samples of foreign-accented Polish in a series of scalar judgement and open question tasks meant to examine Poles’ attitudes to English accent(s) in their native language.

More specifically, we aimed at finding answers to the following research questions:

•How accurately can Polish listeners identify foreign accents in Polish?

•How is English-accented Polish, when compared to Polish spoken with a Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Chinese accent, evaluated by Polish listeners in terms of the samples’ degree of:

(a) comprehensibility

(b) foreign accentedness

(c) pleasantness?

•What phonetic and phonological features, both segmental and prosodic, are perceived by Polish listeners as characteristic of English-accented Polish?

•Can Polish listeners identify different English accents (American, English English and Scottish) in English-accented Polish?

•Does familiarity with a specific foreign language facilitate the recognition and identification of that accent in foreign-accented Polish?

Open access

Jolanta Szpyra-Kozłowska and Marek Radomski


As in recent years a growing number of foreigners have been settling in Poland and learning our language, Poles have found themselves in a fairly new situation of being increasingly exposed, both in direct contacts and through the media, to their mother tongue pronounced with a variety of foreign accents. In a series of studies (Szpyra- Kozłowska and Radomski 2012, in press, Szpyra-Kozłowska 2013b) we have undertaken an examination of how such accents are perceived and evaluated by Polish listeners. The issues that have come under scrutiny so far concerned identification of the speakers’ origin, evaluation of different accents in terms of their intelligibility, degree of accentedness and acceptance, establishing the major perceptual properties of several accents and examining their salience.

In the present paper we focus on the participants of communication which involves accented Polish, i.e. non-native speakers and native listeners, and their views on this phenomenon. We examine them in two questionnaire studies, one administered to 40 foreign learners of Polish and the other one to 80 native listeners. Thus, our study sets itself the following goals:

to examine what attitudes Poles take towards Polish-speaking foreigners and their accents in particular (Questionnaire 2);

to juxtapose these opinions with foreign learners’ experience of Poles’ reactions to accented Polish (Questionnaire 1);

to draw implications for the phonetic training of foreigners who undertake to learn Polish.